As the air grows seasonably frosty, the thought of warming pumpkin punches becomes suddenly enticing. At the department store John Lewis on Oxford Street, there is a new residency by brother chefs Iain and Matthew Pennington for the store’s new rooftop winter garden. The pair’s original The Ethicurean is located in a beautiful walled garden in Bristol, and they’ve brought unlikely lashings of that homey charm to Oxford Street.
The rooftop has been transformed into a fairy-lit garden, with the most enticing seating in little private lodges, styled like garden sheds — if sheds had private sound systems and a bell to ring for service (reserve one of these ahead). There’s also the main snug, with open kitchen and rustic farmhouse interior. The chefs explain that the short menu contains some of their favorite Ethicurean dishes, “some iconic and hearty British classics which have been given a special Ethicurean twist.”
These include a powerfully Welsh rarebit with attitude, which you can spice up with the addition of star anise confit duck, hot smoked arctic char, sauerkraut, caraway seeds, and Chinese leaf kimchi . Rib-stickingly hearty is the Venison & Pipers Farm Bacon Pie with port stout, buttered mashed potato and cider and juniper sauce. Victorian scrambled eggs with soda bread are sumptuously buttery. We also tried the London Stout Pudding: steamed chocolate and London stout, served with lashings of cream, which was perfection — not too sweet or rich, and so British that it could bring you round to Brexit. So long as we have our puddings, nothing can go wrong.
Background Bars have created seasonal drinks to complement all this heart-warming nosh, with a warming Pumpkin Punch (bourbon and maraschino cherry liqueur, mixed with honeyed rooibos tea syrup, lemon, pumpkin, and orange juice, topped with bitters), alongside Christmas-in-a-glass-type tipples, such as the Eight Spices Mulled Negroni, a traditional hot toddy, and the Red Sour (Chivas Regal 12YO Whisky, malbec, lemon, cherry bitters, syrup and egg whites).
It’s not Narnia quite yet, but check out several more winter gardens popping up in London this month, including the Monkey 47 Winter Lodge in Holborn, and the Winter Forest at Broadgate, Liverpool Street.